Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A look inside a successful charter school culture

A nice article about the culture at Prizker College Prep charter high school in Chicago:

At Pritzker, the culture has paid off.

Fully 95 percent of the African-American and Latino students are poor. Very few of them have parents who went to college, yet every member of last year's senior class was accepted at one or more four-year colleges; an eye-popping 90 percent matriculated.

Students are chosen by lottery, and there are at least two applicants for every seat. Demand is so high that Sierra has found a way to wedge 700 students into a building meant to accommodate 500.

"What makes this kind of teaching possible is high behavioral standards," said Sierra. "The onus of the learning is on the child. The teacher's job is to deliver rigorous, effective instruction. But the child's job is to learn and to demonstrate what they have learned."

Academics are rigorous, teachers have special training and kids are in school more hours than their peers in traditional public schools. But Sierra attributes 80 percent of the school's success to its distinctive, disciplined culture. Every detail, from the level of noise allowed in the hall between classes to the "7 Habits of Successful Teens" posters in each classroom, is the result of deliberate thought.

"It runs so smoothly because everyone has to follow the same rules," said senior Michelle Ramos, who has applied to 21 colleges and hopes to study aerospace engineering. "You know no one is going to be a distraction or get out of line."


A look inside a successful charter school culture

By Beth Hawkins


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